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Published: Saturday, 9/30/2006

Stritch hands Toledo Christian 1st loss

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Cardinal Stritch's Nick Baker levels Toledo Christian's Ray Dominguez, preventing him from catching the ball. Cardinal Stritch's Nick Baker levels Toledo Christian's Ray Dominguez, preventing him from catching the ball.
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Toledo Christian's undefeated status ended last night.

It came to a screeching halt thanks to Cardinal Stritch.

The Cardinals posted a 14-7 victory over the Eagles in a key Toledo Area Athletic Conference tilt at Northwood.

Stritch quarterback Hank Taylor (154 yards, 17 completions on 25 attempts) and wideout Michael Ameling (had four catches for 60 yards) teamed up for the Cardinals' two scores.

Taylor connected with Ameling for a 10-yard touchdown completion late in the first half, and the two would team up for a 20-yard touchdown completion on a fourth-and 13 play with just under two minutes remaining in the game to break a 7-7 tie.

Ameling's second scoring catch occurred after a high snap sailed over Taylor's head on the previous play with the Cardinals at the Eagles' 12 yard line. Taylor saved the possession by falling on the loose football.

However, the loss in yardage put the Cardinals out of field goal range. Stritch (5-1, 3-0 TAAC) decided to go for it all on fourth down. Again, they called on Taylor and Ameling to produce some late heroics.

"We make plays when we need to make plays," Stritch coach Tony Beier said. "We've been doing that all year."

Toledo Christian s Steve Powell tries to stop Cardinal Stritch s Michael Ameling, who caught two touchdown passes.
Toledo Christian s Steve Powell tries to stop Cardinal Stritch s Michael Ameling, who caught two touchdown passes.
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However, the Eagles (5-1, 1-1 TAAC) proved to be their worst enemy at times. They didn't take advantage of opportunities that could have swung the momentum in their favor.

Perhaps the most significant play of the game came late in the fourth quarter.

A high snap floated over Taylor's head, and Toledo Christian's Ray Dominguez scooped up the loose ball and raced to the end zone for an apparent 56-yard fumble return for a touchdown that would have tied the score at 7.

But Dominguez's touchdown was nullified because of a penalty on the play. Taylor was yanked down from behind by an Eagle player as he attempted to chase down Dominguez.

Instead of celebrating a touchdown, the Eagles had to settle on starting a possession at the Cardinals' 40.

Ultimately, the possession ended when the Eagles failed to convert on a fake punt.

The Cardinals put together a scoring drive late in the first half to take a 7-0 lead into halftime.

Taylor capped an eight-play drive covering 56 yards by connecting with Ameling for the 10-yard touchdown pass with 15.3 seconds remaining in the first half. Taylor completed six of seven pass attempts on the drive for 45 yards.

The Eagles offense never got on track in the first half against a Cardinals defense led up front by Jesh St. John, Walter Sharp, Jim Gallaher, and Thomas Bergman. Toledo Christian was limited to three first downs in the first half. Mark Rossol scored on a 2-yard run late in the game for the Eagles to tie the score.

But Stritch's Nick Baker came through with an interception in the end zone on the final play of the game to secure the victory.

"It was a little sloppy at times, but we played great defense tonight, and defense wins championships," Beier said.

Taylor commended Ameling for making his job easy. It was Ameling who outjumped Toledo Christian's Jacob Weemes on the eventual game-winning touchdown. Weemes had good position on the play, but Ameling came down with the football by using his height to his benefit.

"It's a major advantage having a 6-4 guy to throw to," said Taylor of Ameling. "I know he has a height advantage over most defensive backs."

However, Taylor's target credited the Cardinals quarterback for doing his part on the two touchdown completions.

"He [Taylor] threw the ball right where it needed to be thrown," Ameling said.

Ameling also recognized the play of the Cardinals defensive unit for shutting down an Eagles team that had outscored its opponents 122-32 prior to last night.

"Our defense stepped it up big time tonight," he said. "Both teams made mistakes, but we just made more plays."

Contact Donald Emmons at:

demmons@theblade.com

or 419-724-6302.



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